For me, the best thing about working in animation was that it reminded me of what live action television was like when I first started, almost–ahem–years ago. In those days, I was busy being mystified and grateful because by getting into show business I had actually found people who thought the way I did. Instead of worrying about money, or what other people would think, or what adhered to some arbitrary standard of “right” and “wrong,” the men and women who populated the studios and networks in the early ’70s were daring, educated, and caring individuals who just plain wanted to put on a show. Any show.
It was like being smack dab in the middle of a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movie. At last my rebellious spirit was justified. I was no longer alone!
Over the years, that attitude changed. MBAs from Harvard replaced show people and admen as heads of all the companies, and with them they brought their deepest moral value: The bottom line. Live action TV became so much of a business that the very terminology changed. No longer were we making shows for people. Instead, we were “supplying product.”
Even now, however, animation retains the old ethos of zest and creativity. Up and down the ladder, everyone involved is on the lookout for material that will expand the horizons of the medium. Ironically, animation is in many ways more of a business than live action. Licensing–primarily to toy companies–has meant that profits are in fact higher on this playing field. But the business side is nicely hidden by the smoke and mirrors of creativity and zeal.
For writers and artists, the hours are longer and the pay is less. Many companies are non-union and have never heard of fringe benefits. But animation writing gives all of us a chance to learn–and teach–and, most importantly of all, stretch our talent and ambition to the limit.
With that in mind, here’s your chance to take a look at three of the best animated series I’ve supervised: